Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

HCR -- SCOTUS Arguments, Day Two

By John Ballard

Yesterday's arguments were pro-forma. I don't think anyone seriously thought the court would dodge the issue and put the matter off until 2015 or later. Between now and then too much might happen. (More about that in a moment.)

Today's focus was squarely on the constitutionality of the individual mandate. The air is clogged with all kinds of responses, but this from SCOTUS Blog is as good as anyone might want. 

If Justice Anthony M. Kennedy can locate a limiting principle in the federal government�s defense of the new individual health insurance mandate, or can think of one on his own, the mandate may well survive. If he does, he may take Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and a majority along with him. But if he does not, the mandate is gone. That is where Tuesday�s argument wound up � with Kennedy, after first displaying a very deep skepticism, leaving the impression that he might yet be the mandate�s savior.

If the vote had been taken after Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., stepped back from the lectern after the first 56 minutes, and the audience stood up for a mid-argument stretch, the chances were that the most significant feature of the Affordable Care Act would have perished in Kennedy�s concern that it just might alter the fundamental relationship between the American people and their government. But after two arguments by lawyers for the challengers � forceful and creative though they were � at least doubt had set in and expecting the demise of the mandate seemed decidedly premature.

[Lots more at the link, and very well written, too.]

That's about what I have been hearing before now.

We'll just have to wait for confirmation, but most of the smart people I have read are in agreement that the mandate will survive, not as much because it is or isn't Constitutional, but because without it too many people will be tempted to game the health care and insurance sectors even more than they do now.  As I have said until I'm blue in the face, insurance is about risk management, not health care. Health care is about risk management as well, but the two intersect not at health care but money -- how much it will cost and who will pay.

Now to the matter of letting time pass. I heard a version of this story years ago, but thanks to Google this one is even better.

There�s a famous story involving the Persian philosopher and fool-figure, Mullah Nasrudin. One day, he was watching the Sultan of Baghdad tame a new horse. Suddenly, the Sultan was flung from the back of a new wild stallion brought to his stables from Bactria (modern-day Afghanistan). The horse was wild and uncontrollable. Nasrudin began laughing because the Sultan was covered in dirt and manure.

Angrily, the Sultan rose to his feet and ordered his bodyguards to arrest Nasrudin. "Why are you laughing at me?" the Sultan asked. "Because I was flung from my horse?"

"No," said Nasrudin the fool. "Because you are trying so hard to tame the horse in a single day, and failing. You should stick to what you are good at, not breaking horses." 

The Sultan grew red-faced. "I suppose," he said, "that you could do better?"

"Oh yes," said Nasrudin, and he grew boastful. "I could tame that horse," and here he snapped his fingers, "like that!  But better than that� because of my great wisdom, if I had a year�. well, I could teach that stallion to talk!"

Nasrudin�s followers wept, and tore at their beards. They urged Nasrudin to come with them, and escape! But Nasrudin only went into the paddock with the wild horse, and picked a handful of sweet grass, and tried to get the horse to eat it. Again and again, the horse only ran away, or kicked at him. This went on for months. Finally, one of Nasrudin�s disciples asked him, "Master, why do you not run away? The horse is dangerous, and the Sultan is even more dangerous. Why not give up this mad pursuit?"

"But, master" said the student in a doubtful voice, "that does not explain why you persist, day after day, in trying to tame this dangerous and wild stallion."

Nasrudin smiled, "Oh, that. Well, a lot can happen in a year. It may even be that I shall succeed in teaching the horse to talk."


  1. We seem to be ignoring the politics here and yes a lot of politics goes on in the SCOTUS and has for years. The problem is the politics are really complicated. The rejection of the ACA would be good for Obama in November. It denies the Republicans an issue for one but it also gives Obama an issue to fire up the base � the SCOTUS itself. The next president will appoint at least two and possibly more nominations which could change the face of the court. The conservative members know this,

  2. Good point.
    And if they look at the alternatives (which will be heavily mentioned tomorrow, I'm sure) they may find them even more disagreeable. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, who argued the government's position, had this to say afterward...
    �The court...understood that the alternatives being offered by the challengers were really not workable,� and that the most likely policy option if the mandate is struck is a more public system like single payer.
    �I don�t think either the Chief Justice or Justice Kennedy thinks that�s a good option,�

    Is the court ever gonna figure out that corporate interests have everyone, including them, firmly by the balls? In this case the insurance industry holds all the cards and has from the start. That was abundantly clear when single-payer was not even considered at the beginning.

  3. "...the mandate will survive, not as much because it is or isn't Constitutional, but because without it too many people will be tempted to game the health care and insurance sectors even more than they do now."
    You seriously expect the Supreme Court to rule on an issue not based on its legality, but simply because it is a good idea? Do you have a clear idea of what a court is?
    If one wants to accuse the court of political bias, one might suggest a ruling based on conservative principles, or on support of a Democratic administration. But ruling based on the the putative actions of the citizenry as a result of the law, or lack thereof? Please.

  4. In response to Bill H, I don't think John Ballard's consideration of extrajudicial factors is inappropriate here. The reality is that, if the Court just considered the narrow constititutionality of this law, it wouldn't even be a close question based on prior decisions that it is. What John recognizes is that people are beginning to realize that Roberts and his buddies aren't going to do that, that they're animated by their own political reactions to the law. Under those circumstances, it may be smart to point out to a Court that's tempted to depart from the law that doing so will lead to practical disasters. Maybe that will work, maybe it won't. But I would definitely do it.